PORTLAND — The Portland Museum of Art will host a public forum entitled “Whose Art Is It?” on Friday, April 8, to facilitate a roundtable discussion about public ownership of public art and the controversial removal of a mural from Maine’s Department of Labor.

Participants will include: Mark Bessire, director of the Portland Museum of Art; Sharon Corwin, director and chief curator of the Colby College Museum of Art; Christina Bechstein, sculpture professor and director of public engagement at Maine College of Art; and Chris O’Neil, government relations consultant for the Portland Community Chamber.

The event will take place between noon and 1:30 p.m. Co-sponsors include the Portland Museum of Art, Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin college art museums, and the Maine College of Art. The event is free and open to the public.

The 11-panel, 36-foot-wide mural, depicts scenes from Maine’s labor history and was installed in 2008 in the lobby of Maine’s Department of Labor headquarters in Augusta.

Gov. Paul LePage and the artist, Judy Taylor of Tremont, were invited but will not attend. Taylor declined, and LePage will be on vacation in Jamaica.

LePage ordered the mural to be removed last weekend. He said it presented a one-sided view of Maine’s labor history and did not create a neutral atmosphere in the department, which works with both employers and employees on labor issues.


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